Month: August 2021

Where thoughts take us – Part 2

My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8). Left to ourselves, our thoughts will always take us in a totally different direction to where God wants to take us. Of our own initiative, the most we are capable of is a general and fleeting curiosity of God without any actioned faith in Him.
Where thoughts take us - Pt 2
When God thinks, He not only knows His own mind, but instinctively the Lord knows the thoughts of man also (Psalm 94:11). The fact is, humanity struggles to understand their own thoughts, and without divine intervention through God’s Spirit and God’s Word, we know nothing of what God thinks. Thankfully, God is NOT like mankind. O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether (Psalm 139:1-4).

God presently knows every single human, including you and I – TOTALLY. No one is exempt from being fully known by the Almighty. Our deepest feelings, our motives, our intensions, our fears, our dreams, our sadness, and our joys, they are all known and understood in microscopic detail. The point of this realisation is threefold:

  1. God’s absolute knowledge of everything you think, say, and do, is an inescapable reality. Despite His thorough knowledge of you, He loves you the most.
  2. Denying God of His rightful authority over your life does not exclude you from His knowledge of you or from your responsibility to live a life of worship of Him.
  3. Irrespective of your circumstances in life, God knows, God cares, and God wants His Son Jesus Christ to be received into your life as saving Lord.

Intellectual awareness of God does us no good without a personal relationship with Him. Sympathy towards God cannot save us from ourselves or from the consequences of our sin. Christian upbringing, church attendance, benevolent acts of kindness with good intentions cannot save us from the consequences of  independent thinking towards God.

King David had the right attitude; How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:17). Authentic faith in God prioritises His thoughts as authoritative in our lives. Proverbs 3:5-7 explains how this works within us; Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. God’s values are to become our values.

Moving our thoughts towards God begins with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A clear belief that Jesus died as your substitute on the Cross carrying your sin. A deep conviction that spiritually speaking, you died to your sin just as Christ died under the wrath of God for your sin, this is the beginning. As there is only one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5), it starts with a personal faith relationship with Christ.

Once a relationship with God is established through faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible is then able to speak authoritatively into our inner thoughts to begin reconstruction. This takes time, patience, and a long-term commitment to personal change for greater Christlikeness.

To be continued…

Where thoughts take us – Part 1

The combination of brain and mind are an astounding duo. They are inseparable, interdependent, and operate both consciously and unconsciously. The spiritual heart is the engine that powers up all that we are and do. The heart provides the fuel for our minds to operate on, both healthy and unhealthy fuels. God acknowledges the significance of the heart; above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23 NIV).

Where thoughts take us - Part 1
While many thoughts are determined by us, there are those that simply appear. We don’t always understand our thoughts, some of them just arrive uninvited. To a large degree, it is the heart that supplies the values and beliefs which stimulate our thoughts. Likewise, the heart educates the conscience with values from which it speaks into our minds and thoughts.

Thoughts never leave us stationary or stagnant, but always take us somewhere. They always direct, lead, or invite us down a path of further thoughts. They often leave lingering feelings, they stir up emotions, and ultimately end up materializing somewhere in our attitudes and behaviour. Thoughts unavoidably grow towards a destination within our minds which we can either accept or reject. Just because we have thoughts does not mean they are right or wrong or have authority over us. We all have the capacity to govern and direct our thoughts.

The inner person is multi-layered and complex. Thankfully, God’s Word has much to say about our hearts, our minds, and our thoughts. Scripture provides us with the required truth to understand and educate our inner person so that the Lord’s righteousness can filter through our whole person.

Jesus explained that, of our natural selves, when we are separated from God; out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, and slander (Matthew 15:19). Left to ourselves, the natural human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). When we listen to the instinctive voices rising from our hearts, we are often perplexed, and fail to understand why we are the way we are. But God brings the required clarity; humanity has a self-deceiving spiritual heart sickness called ‘sin.’ It is sin which produces evil thoughts. Left to itself, the heart spits out many thoughts which exclude God, which self-harm, and are destructive of others who suffer from the same sickness.

Therefore, Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:3, I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Jesus Christ is the only cure for the heart disease called sin. A spiritually pure thought life begins with sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

God promised Israel in Ezekiel 36:26-27, I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you… I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Likewise, all humanity is dependent upon the Lord doing this supernatural work within them. A cleansed and forgiven heart is one that fuels a cleansed mind which produces cleansed thoughts.

For believers, God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). We consciously put Christ first in our hearts by reading and believing the Word of God, by believing in Christ’s substitutional death on the cross, by worship and fellowship with other believers, and with private and group prayer. These simple faith disciplines are the beginning of an ordered thought life, which is pleasing to God.

To be continued…

Believers’ advocacy for the gospel

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9).

Believers’ advocacy for the gospel
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us… (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14).

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct… (1 Peter 1:13-15).

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:12-14).

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest (Luke 10:2).

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints… (Ephesians 6:10-18).

A tenacious life – Jeremiah

Jeremiah was not compelled by promises of positive results, he simply did as God instructed. The 12 tribes of Israel were torn apart due to idolatry, yet Jeremiah remained a faithful prophet. The 10 northern tribes had been taken captive by the Assyrians, and shortly Jeremiah would witness the captivity of Judah by Babylon.

A tenacious life - Jeremiah
Jeremiah would remain unmarried (Jer 16:2), and he was often overwhelmed by tears at the suffering of rebellious Israel (Jer 9:1). Jeremiah was a young man when he began prophesying to Judah during the reign of King Josiah in 627 B.C. until after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The Lord told him, before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5). This was God’s mission, Jeremiah was God’s mouthpiece, and the nation was called to obedience or further judgement would come.

It was the 4th year of King Jehoiakim, and partnered by his secretary Baruch, Jeremiah said; I am banned from going to the house of the LORD, so you are to go. You shall read the words of the LORD from the scroll that you have written at my dictation. You shall read them also in the hearing of all the men of Judah… (Jeremiah 36:5-6). Consequently, the officials had the scroll read to them also, then they instructed Baruch, “Go and hide, you and Jeremiah, and let no one know where you are” (Jer 36:19). The officials proceeded to read the scroll to the King. As three or four columns were read, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire… 24 Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid… (Jeremiah 36:23-24). Unrepentance and arrogance had hardened their hearts to God’s Word so that they did not fear what they should have feared. 

Tenacity for God marked Jeremiah’s life. Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe… who wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them (Jeremiah 36:32). Fear of King Jehoiakim paled in comparison to Jeremiah and Baruch’s fear of God. Judgement was coming!

While Jeremiah was seeking safety, the officials were enraged, and they beat him and imprisoned him… (Jer 37:15). Later, they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah… they let Jeremiah down by ropes. There was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud (Jer 38:6).

And so it happened, Jeremiah chapter 39 records Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army capturing Jerusalem. The belligerent officials were killed. King Zedekiah’s sons were also killed in front of him. Nebuchadnezzar then put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains to take him to Babylon (Jer 39:7). The King’s house was burned, the city walls were broken down, and Nebuchadnezzar carried into exile to Babylon the rest of the people who were left in the city (Jer 39:9). What an avoidable tragedy!

Jeremiah 39:11-12 tells us that Nebuchadnezzar gave command concerning Jeremiah saying…  “Take him, look after him well, and do him no harm, but deal with him as he tells you.” God is faithful to His Word and to His servants. Jeremiah lived on to prophesy of hope and of a restored nation. He leaves us with an amazing example to follow.

 

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